I saw a poster in the social security office recently with the phrase “Love Shouldn’t Hurt” on it. It was accompanied by contact information and literature for local organizations that help woman escape domestic violence. With domestic violence awareness month approaching, I felt compelled to write about this.
Now, if you read the title of this blog post and thought some variation of “what the fuck?” this post is not for you. Its contents will probably just piss you off more. Stop right here and save yourself the annoyance.
However, if you read the title and thought “really?” or maybe even “I knew he loved me!” then this, my friend, is for you.
Many years ago, I was returning home from a road trip. I knew that my boyfriend would still be at work when I got in. I decided to make a snack and take a shower before he came home. When I got out of the shower, I noticed the words “I Love You” were written on the steamy bathroom mirror. He must’ve come home early. I poked my head out the door and called his name. No answer. I called him louder, but still no answer. He indeed wasn’t home yet. When he got in, he explained that he wrote the love note after taking his shower that morning. He knew that when I came in to take my shower, I’d re-fog the mirror revealing the love note before we would even see each other. How romantic!
Fast forward a year later, I was eight and a half months pregnant with our son. My contractions started around 5am and by 7am they were stronger and exactly 10 minutes apart. I told my boyfriend it was time to go to the hospital. He responded by telling me he didn’t have time for some false labor bullshit, and if I expected him to drive me to the hospital, he was going to need some pussy first. I gave him some pussy, and he gave me a ride to the hospital.
So, who was he? Was he the charming and romantic man that left love notes on the bathroom mirror, or was he the psychotic fuck that demanded sex in exchange for a ride to the hospital? The answer – he was both.
I was in an abusive relationship. He was emotionally and verbally abusive. Most days I felt trapped and helpless. My depression was at its worst in that era of my life. However, I also felt hopeful. I hoped that one day the romantic version of him would be the only version of him I’d get.
People tried desperately to convince me that he didn’t love me. Why would he treat me poorly if he did? When you love something, you don’t abuse it. You treasure and respect it. Love doesn’t hurt. Love is beautiful and magical, and even when it isn’t, it certainly isn’t abusive!
But didn’t he love me? He would write me love notes. He took care of me. The way he held me on the couch while we watched television together, that meant nothing? You can’t fake that! The love he had for me was in there. I just had to figure out how to activate it. How do I activate his love – all the time, no matter what?
The truth was I had activated his love, and his love hurt.
He was abusive. He was abusive to me and even to himself. He wanted people to look at him and see an ambitious man with high self-esteem, but in reality, he was broken and full of rage. He was shown toxic forms of love and adopted toxic forms of love, so guess what? He gave toxic forms of love. That was his version of it. It was the reason he could share some of the most heartfelt sentiments with me and within hours tell me I was a filthy whore who deserved for my fiancée to die.
I spent so much time waiting to unveil that better version of him. I was waiting for the greatness I knew existed. I was waiting for him to truly love me. Eventually I came to the realization that he did truly love me. And it wasn’t until then, that I knew I had to leave him.
An abuser’s love is going to hurt. They don’t know how to love any other way. We can debate for the rest of our lives about whether it is real love or not. That doesn’t matter. What matters is you.
His love calls you disrespectful names.
His love keeps you away from family and friends.
His love blackens your eye.
His love pulled a gun on you.
His love slapped you in front of your children.
His love cheats on you, openly and frequently.
His love won’t allow you to grow and it’ll be damned if you shine.
What you must decide is do you want his love? If I told you that he loved you with all his heart, and his love will always abuse you, would you still want it?
Love shouldn’t hurt, but sometimes it does. With that said, love never has to hurt you.
After spending a year in grief counseling, I started to see that my life needed a major overhaul. Yes, my boyfriend died making me the single mom of our infant twins, but I was still grieving my loss of innocence from decades of abuse. I decided to turn my pain into a new purpose and to share this journey with others that may need some motivation.